Tuesday, March 17, 2015


It's been difficult to have a positive attitude lately.  We have been having a hard time getting my thyroid kick started.  In November and December, things were going well, and then I had a setback.  The meds weren't working, and I reacted adversely to any new ones we tried.  I had gone down two sizes, but gradually took it all back in.  My worst problem with this disease is the swelling from inflamation.  The edema is so severe, it is painful.  I know when I wake up each morning how I am going to do by how badly my ribs hurt.  My toes feel like I could poke them with a pin and they would squirt water.  I wish it were that easy.
I think I sabotaged myself.  I gave up on my diet, truly believing that what I ate did not affect my symptoms.  I continued to be gluten and dairy free, for the most part.  I love tomatoes, and I wanted to not be affected by them.  Dumb, but I finally have to admit that the nightshade vegetables are a big issue for me.
So, I am back on the Paleo Leap again.  I am also drinking 10 ounces of coconut water a day to help with the swelling.  I was whining the other day about how yucky it had gotten to be, when my husband started singing "Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up".  Well, darn, if it doesn't make it more palatable.  I had been adding lemon, but lime is much better.  In addition to the coconut water, I am taking 400mg of Potassium at night.

I had a family event to go to on Saturday, and I could not fit into any of my clothes.  I went in to Nordstroms, where I don't usually shop, but I needed help.  I started crying when I told the clerk what I needed.  She was amazing, and set me up with a beautiful orange skirt, an aqua tank top, and a multi colored floral cardigan.
Three days later, I am down two sizes again.
Yesterday I went on my Monday hike with the Tukwila Trailers, a group of senior women who go out hiking for two hours every Monday, rain, snow, or shine.  I love this group.  I was dismayed to discover I had very little energy, and found myself bringing up the rear.  Fatigue is my second worst symptom.
After we hike, we all go out to lunch.  This is also very difficult, since it is hard to find something on the menu I can eat.  I'm finding a bacon burger without bun, tomato or cheese will be good.  Or, a salad is a good option.  Yesterday the fist bite of my salad told me it was from a bag, and often, those bagged salads have sulfites in them.  I swelled up on the way home in the van.

Lasagna Gardening and other Tales

Happy St. Patricks Day.  I'm really not sure why we celebrate this day, I just know that in college it meant we went out to drink green beer.  I do enjoy the tradition of corned beef and cabbage, and I cooked mine Sunday night.  This morning we had hash with our eggs for breakfast.  Yum.

Friday was an incredibly beautiful day, with temps at 68 degrees.  The record in our neck of the woods is 70, so we almost made it.  I took advantage and started working on the vegetable garden.  We first formed this garden when I moved in with Terry two years ago.  The soil was in great condition, but the weeds had won the battle.  We spent hours on our hands and knees, pulling out every last root of every last weed.  Friday when I started work by raking out the straw, there were 3 weeds.  Three.  So, I am going to tell you about how we do our lasagna gardens.

 You start with a bed with good soil and no signs of weeds.
 Next, you cover the soil with either cardboard or wet newspaper.  I chose to use newspaper on this garden since I had lettuce and cabbage starts that I wanted to plant right away.
 A simple poke with the trowel makes for a hole to place your starts in to.  Then, you cover it all with either straw or mulch.  I need to take a trip to the farm and garden store to get some straw, since I like it best.
This method cuts way down on your weeds, and more importantly, conserves moisture.  With the mild winter we have had, and no snow in the mountains, I suspect we are going to have a dry summer with water restrictions.
 This is the garden in the front yard that we finished that same morning.  I want to start growing  more vegetables out front, so I lifted all of the perennials and replanted them elsewhere.  Then I raked the soil level before laying down cardboard.  We save cardboard all year, since our goal is to have all of our beds lasagna style.  It's a little hard to see, but I set up the bedsprings as a trellis for the sweet peas I planted.
 On Saturday, I joined my son, brother, and sister in law in taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island for a Memorial service celebrating the life of my Uncle Norman.
 Here I am with my son, Michael.
Uncle Norm was quite the man.  He was loved by everyone.  He never seemed to lose his temper.  
As my cousin, his daughter said, he didn't even get mad when she crashed the car into the mailbox.  Or when she drove it into the ditch, or when she crashed it. . . . .
I know as a child, he would delight me by talking like Donald Duck.  His passing gave the family the opportunity to gather and share stories and pictures and be embraced by the love.  He would have loved the party we held in his honor.

We arrived early for the service, so stopped at a Starbucks for some coffee.  One of my cousin's sons was there with his family, and he told me he had something for me.  He presented me with a bag full of booklets that my Mom had given him years ago when he was writing a report for school on the history of aviation.  I was totally amazed when I got home and looked them over.  This is just a sampling.  They were all published in 1943.  I guess I should explain that my Dad was a Marine, and a Naval Aviator.  He flew a SBD dive bomber.
Now, we need to have a family meeting to decide what to do with these.  Terry wants to scan the covers for the artwork.  Maybe they will end up in a Flight Museum.  We shall see.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

On Line Dating in your 60's

Most people are amazed when they learn that Terry and I met through an on-line dating service.
Yes, it's true.
I was 61, lonely, and looking for some fun.  I didn't necessarily want to get married again, but wanted some male companionship.

I was on vacation with my brother in Palm Desert.  He had just met a woman on E_Harmony, and was pretty sure this would be his wife.  (They were married that year).  So, he sat me down and showed me the ropes.  I went through the lengthy process, answered all of the questions, and sat back and waited.  And waited.  After a few weeks, I got notification of some picks for me.  I saw there was a man from my home town, and I got a little excited, wondering who that could be.
When the picture came up, I was flabbergasted.  It was my brother!!!
I had always told him he needed a woman like me, but really.
I never made a connection on that site, but tried several others.  Most of the men who contacted me were frauds.  They prey on widows, but it's not hard to discern them.
I met a couple of nice men.  Actually had a few dates.
Then Terry contacted me, and the rest is history.
It was not smooth sailing.  I broke up with him three times, but eventually came to realize that I wanted and needed him in my life.
Thank you, Terry, for being patient with me and waiting.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I Had a Farm in Nooksack

Last night, we started watching "Out of Africa".  At the beginning, Meryl Streep says:
I had a farm in Africa.  She said it with such feeling, it embraced everything I felt and the tears began to fall.  She said it two more times, and I was a goner.
I had a farm in Nooksack.

Leaving here was the hardest thing I ever did.
When my husband inherited a half interest in this farm in 1996, it was a derelict former dairy farm.
We maintained it for two years, with occasional visits, but it sat vacant during that time.

 Then we discovered alpacas.  We bought our first alpacas in 1998 and proceeded to convert the dairy farm to an alpaca friendly environment.  I moved to the farm in 2001 with 21 alpacas while my husband continued to work in Seattle and visit on the weekends to do the remodeling and heavy work.  I was there mostly by myself for 7 years before he retired.
I converted the grounds to a showcase, and created a business and store.
 The farm became a destination for tourists, including busloads from Seattle, Bellingham, and Canada.
Then my husband died in 2010, right before Christmas and my life was changed.
Leaving the farm was hard enough, but leaving the community was the worst.  The life I had in Nooksack was idyllic in many ways.  I had so many friends, and my church was the best.
More than anything, though, I needed to be closer to my family.
I was gratified the other day in talking with my son about it all, and he told me how relieved he and his brother were that I moved.  They worried so much about me there, and it was so difficult for them to come for a visit.
There were many factors involved in my halving to leave.
But I have found new happiness in my life with my new husband and my new community.
And I am happy to be closer to my family.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

An Incredibly, Gorgeous, Magnificent Day for a Walk

Yesterday, 15 senior women headed north to Fir Island for their weekly hike, hoping to see the Snow Geese that winter over in Skagit County.  We saw the geese from afar, but mostly we saw the Trumpeter Swans.

 Fir Island is separated from Puget Sound by an estuary that is affected by the tides.  These trees have all died from the salt water, but I find them beautiful.  The first part of our walk along here was almost surreal, with dead trees on the left, and live Evergreens on right.
Here are a few of the Trumpeter Swans, an endangered species.  They are dying off at an alarming rate in other areas of the state.  They used to winter on my farm, on the back 30 acres.  We had a person from Games and Wildlife who would come out and check on them regularly, charting their movement.  They even had names for the tagged swans. 
 Another picture of Mt. Baker in all her glory.  She is one of the volcanoes that we live under, here in Washington State.
And here, you can see the Olympic Mountains to the west on the Olympic Peninsula, with a tiny peek of Puget Sound.
It's days like this that make us so grateful for such a beautiful place to live.  People associate the Seattle area with rain.  Well, we do have our gray, dreary days, but when you trade them out with days like this?  What's to complain about?

Sunday, February 22, 2015

When Left Alone. . .

I had such a great day yesterday.  Terry was off fishing with a buddy, and I was at my own devices.  I spent most of the day in my studio, sewing.
Below you will see the first two coasters I made using old CDs and one inch wide strips of fabric.

Here's a picture of my studio.  It was almost neat and tidy at the point of this shot, but oh, Lordy, you should see it now!  I have so many projects in process.  I always have an Audio book to listen to as I work away.

We recently painted the bathroom, and I refinished the small set of drawers I keep in there.  I repainted it, and decoupaged pieces of fabric to the front of the drawers.  Then, I made my first Quilt As You Go projects.  I can't believe I did not know of this method before.  Well, I knew of it, but had never tried it.  It's so nice and easy for a quick project.  I made toppers for the toilet, the dresser, and yesterday I made one for the countertop that runs on top of both.  We have these hideous pinkish mauve countertops in both the bathroom and kitchen, but are not in a position to replace them just yet, so if I can cover them up, I feel better.

 In addition to thrift store shopping, I also love consignment stores.  I have been taking my clothes to one for quite some time and have lots of credit accumulated there.  They had a huge sale a few weeks ago and I bought these two Fossil bags.  I just couldn't choose!
 Oh, I forgot.  Yesterday I also moved a Red Twig Dogwood to a new location and planted the three Daylily bulbs that I bought at the Garden Show.  Now I have to figure out where to plant the Stargazer Lillies.  Yes, we have had some beautiful weather, but I don't want to dig up sod to make new beds just yet.  I have to move all of the blueberry bushes, but that will involve extending one of the beds a good two feet, which means two feet by 15 feet of sod.  NOT looking forward to that.  Maybe I will wait until after they produce and the sod is not so heavy with moisture.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Thrift Store Finds and Succulents

Oh, do I love Thrift Stores.  I will search and search until I find something unusual to plant succulents in.  This pair of ducks has a signature on the bottom, but I can't really read it, and I'm not knowledgable about these things.  I think it is Huff.  Does anyone know anything about this?
I love this little piece.  It's obviously someone's first venture into pottery, and they finally threw it out.  I like the imperfection and whimsical style to this.

And speaking of succulents!!!
This was in the entrance to the Pacific Northwest Flower and Garden Show that I went to last week.  It was about 8 feet tall, and made entirely of succulents.  Wow.  I have trouble getting a simple 10" diameter wreath to grow.

And, talking about Thrift Stores!
We have a new one in our neighborhood that benefits the community.  I was in there the other day and learned about a project, the Tukwila Snack Pack Program.  Apparently 21% of the children who go to one of the elementary schools here are classified as homeless.  They get food at school, but on the weekends, many of them have nothing to eat.  This really hit me in my heart.  I have been looking for a way to Volunteer, and this was it.  On Thursdays, backpacks are loaded with healthy food, and on Friday they are distributed to the kids.  I worked at Thrift It, the shop I was telling you about, taking in donations last Friday.
During the course of the day, I met three wonderful women who all attend the local Presbyterian Church.  (I met more than those three, but for this story, it's three)  I have also been looking for a church.  It's very had to visit a church when you don't know anyone.  Well, Sunday morning, off I went, and I loved it.  I was welcomed warmly, enjoyed the service, the people, and the potluck afterwards.  It is very much like my church in Nooksack.  I'm hoping that this will be my new church home.  I need to attend a few more times to know for sure.